|Forest Sangha Newsletter||July 1989|
Part of the Lineage: Part I
We tend to keep to the Thai form, because we have a very strong Thai community supporting us, because we're close to Thailand and because we have Thai monks visiting us.
Here in England the conditions are very different. The situation lends itself to something like Chithurst: an old place that you do up. That means that the community has to live together under one roof and the monastic life style is considerably different from Thailand. There is an emphasis on meetings, and on community spirit. The climatic conditions are also very different here, requiring adaptations of dress: You need socks, boots and hats and jackets.
Going back to a traditional situation you see the beauty of gratitude, the beauty of respect, the beauty of generosity.
Here you've got every kind of Buddhist convention and tradition, as well as many that are of no specific tradition. There are certain tensions with the conventions, because not everybody wants the Thai Theravada.
You live comparatively close to Thailand and you go there yourself every year or so. Do you see any advantage in being able to go back to a traditional situation?
Well, in the monastic form some of the emphasis on what we call acariyavatta - and respect to seniority. Also that separation between the laity and the monks: sometimes its a beneficial thing to keep that, rather than just becoming "buddies". Going back to a traditional situation you see the beauty of gratitude, the beauty of respect, the beauty of generosity, and you remember how there are good things to encourage. The refuge of Sangha is needed for the monks and nuns - maybe one can go over-board with the propagation of Buddhism.
I think for any monk, going back to Thailand is a useful way of re-establishing oneself as part of this lineage. It's not just your thing - you're a disciple of Ajahn Chah and you're part of the Sangha as a whole.
*The duties of attendance on a senior monk.